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Now we have passed both Christmas and New Year´s Eve and just got used to writing the numbers 2016. There are lots of work with really starting the new programme period and at the same time the world is kind of upside down. The war in Syria seems getting worse and more refugees than ever wants to come to Europe. Despite the large challenges (mostly for the refugees but also for the receiving countries), there are great opportunities with the integration in rural areas.
A “subgroup” within this working group consists of young people involved in agriculture and forestry. They have made seven podcasts with young farmers (and one young fisherman) that will be broadcasted during spring. The programmes are about the situation of being a young farmer/fisherman, their thoughts about their future and how they have bought their business, or have made/plan for the takeover of the farm or business from their parents. Every podcast will be launched together with a one week photo session from each farmer/fisherman at the NRN Instagram account(@landsbygdsnatverket).
One initiative in the group is to identify, and maybe even develop, new food products that can be produced within Swedish agriculture and meet the demands from our new immigrated citizens.
In cooperation with, among others The SP Food and Bioscience and The Chalmers University, the working group is planning an information campaign about the eco system services provided by agriculture and farming. It will consist of several farmers who are telling in what way they deliver eco system services to society.
Networking activities both for the EMFF in general, and especially targeting the FLAGs, will start during 2016. The application for financing has been sent and we are now awaiting the decision.
Almost every second week, with some break for Christmas, the committee for dialogue between the MA and the LAGs have had their telephone meetings. It is a smaller committee under the large coordination group. Most of the issues discussed have been regarding the final approval of the LAGs complementary information to their strategies and the following “start decision”. By the end of January 28 of the 48 LAGs in Sweden had received their “start decision” and have now started the new period.
Another committee under the coordination group is intended for planning of regional and national leader meetings. Though the spring will be full of work for the LAGs with starting up the new period, there will be some regional meetings. The MA will also arrange quite many training days for the new data system etc.
A web survey about how NGO:s and private individuals are working to welcome refugees and immigrants and facilitate the integration, has resulted in a large amount of interesting examples.
Some 85 different examples from all over Sweden have been identified. They vary from activities to find internships in companies or public employers, initiatives to find housing, sports for integration, mainly football. There are also many local churches and NGO:s arranging language cafés and inter cultural meeting places.
The NRN is every month disseminating best practices regarding local initiatives for improved social inclusion of refugees and immigrants. The first example was about a football club in a rural area that became very successful thanks to including refugees from a close by asylum camp in the team, the next example was about women who started a cooperative for catering services with ethnic food, a third example describes how lonely coming children, living in a larger city, were involved in sport activates in a rural area.
The inflow of migrants have led to lack of housing in many parts of Sweden, even in rural areas. The working group is therefore working closely together with public officers in five local communities to identify methods on how to find more houses and apartments in rural areas.
Other activities that the group are involved with consist of writing a methodology guide to support local initiatives for social inclusion, arranging a workshop for leader groups on social inclusion, writing another methodology guide for agricultural schools on how to develop education for refugees and immigrants, supporting etnhical organisations to grow in rural Sweden, etc.
The working group for youth in rural development has had several telephone meetings, both to prepare a youth conference later on, arranged in cooperation with the village movement All Sweden Shall Live, and also to prepare a training to be offered to the LAGs. It will be a training about how to work to engage young people in the LAG, in election preparation committees and in all other kinds of decision making bodies. These training sessions will be offered at the regional Leader meetings.
The specialists in the innovation support team have had different discussions with around 250 persons interested to know if their ideas could be suitable for an innovation project or not. Up till today the Managing Authority has received around 70 applications, mainly for setting up support. The processing of these applications will start in the second half of March, while the advisory selection committee, who will evaluate the applications for innovation projects, will have its first meeting in the end of May.
In the beginning of December the Polish NRN hosted the meeting for the Nordic Baltic Rural Network, which consist of NSU:s/MA:s from the Nordic and Baltic states together with Poland. From Germany we are still hoping to get some representatives from the Bundesländer close to the Baltic Sea to join our meetings. In the December meeting both the ENRD Contact Point, Evaluation Help Desk and EIP Service Desk participated. The themes were both self assessment/evaluation of the NRN:s, introduction to the EIP Service desk offers as well as what is going on in each country regarding the RDP:s and the NRN:s. Next meeting will be in Sweden in April.
It has not happened yet but as a teaser for the future it is worth mentioning that in May we are planning for a joint Rural Lab with Finland. It is planned together with the ENRD geographical experts for Sweden and Finland and of course also together with our colleagues at the Finnish NSU. The place will be the islands of Åland in the middle of the Baltic Sea. In connection with that Rural Lab there will also be a joint meeting for the Steering groups in the Finnish and the Swedish NRN:s.